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The strength of bolted joints

in glass fibre/epoxy
laminates
G KRETSIS and F. L MA TTHEWS
(Imperial College of Science and Technology, UK)
The results obtained from an experimental study on glass fibrereinforced epoxy laminates are described. Single-hole bolted joints
were tested in a variety of lay-ups with two resin systems - - Fothergill
Code 69 and Ciba-Geigy 91 3. A small number of tests carried out on
carbon fibre laminates compared closely with data from other workers.
The general behaviour of the two fibre systems was found to be
similar, the optimum lay-ups for bearing strength being only slightly
different. The failure modes seemed to be more dependent on the layup than the fibre/resin combination, although more delaminations
were seen with the glass fibre/epoxy laminates which also showed
stronger interaction between modes.

Key words: composite materials; mechanically fastened joints;


bearing strength; failure modes; laminate lay-up; glass fibres; carbon
fibres; epoxy resins

The problem of attachments and joints in composite


materials has received great attention since the
introduction of these materials to highly stressed
structures for two main reasons: firstly, the anisotropy
of the fibrous structure leads to high stress
concentrations and, secondly, the non-yielding nature
of composites does not permit large displacements that
would otherwise relieve localized stresses.
Bolted joints exhibit high stress concentration factors
(SCFs) because of the inherent geometric
discontinuities, but offer easy inspection, low cost, ease
of manufacture and reliability compared with bonded
joints. Furthermore, bolted structural parts can be
easily removed for maintenance or replacement
The development of a three-dimensional stress field
around a bolt-loaded hole gives rise to interlaminar
failure modes. Therefore, a satisfactory finite element
model must be three-dimensional and iterative, making
use of reduced stiffness methods for damaged areas.
Obviously, such a model would be very expensive and
the failure mechanisms very complicated to represent
Because of this, past work on bolted joints has mostly
been experimental. Although experimental work is
quite costly, long-winded and very specific, it is the
most reliable method to date.
Most of the published experiments performed with
bolted joints have been on CFRP (carbon fibres in
epoxy resin), although some isolated results are quoted
for GFRP (glass fibres in epoxy resin); considerable data

is also available for GRP (glass fibres in polyester resin).


The differences between bolted joints in GFRP and the
other two materials have not so far been fully investigate& The experiments described here concern GFRP,
the objective being to analyse the factors affecting the
static strength of single-hole bolted joints under
standard conditions (ie no environmental effects).
Some experiments have also been done with CFRP to
compare the resin systems used here with those used in
previously published work. Multi-hole bolted joints are
not analysed but it is hoped that the present results can
be used as a baseline reference for future investigations
or even design.

POTENTIAL FAILURE MODES OF BOLTED JOINTS IN


COMPOSITE MATERIALS
There are four possible joint failure modes in
composites and these are shown diagramatically in Fi~
1. They are generally similar to the failure modes
observed in metals, despite the fact that metals exhibit
considerable yielding prior to fracture. Yielding does
not take place in composites, therefore the mechanisms
of failure are completely different However, some form
of pseudo-yielding can be experienced for certain layups in which delamination and partial fibre breakage
occur before final failure.
It is geometric factors that usually render one of the
failure modes predominant Such factors are the width
of the specimen and the distance of the bolt from the

0010-4361/85/020092-11 $03.00 1985 Butterworth ~ Co (Publishers) Ltd


92

COMPOSITES. VOLUME 16. NO 2. APRIL 1985

Concentration factors to describe tensile failure. These


are defined as:

C)
knet

Ox(ult)
Onet(ult)

Shear out

Beoring

(4)

and

___
I

Cleavage
or combined
Fig. 1

200 mm

_l

I
I
I

Fig. 2

Typical specimen

free end running normal to the loading axis. Another


factor that affects the failure mode is the lay-up; cracks
almost always propagate along the fibre direction thus,
for example, making tensile failure in a unidirectional
laminate practically impossible to achieve (in most
fibre-reinforced plastics for which the interlaminar
shear strength is very much less than the fibre tensile
strength).
Often, failure modes are not clearly defined since
combined modes may occur if the conditions are right
In particular, some signs of bearing mode damage are
almost always present after failure, since the pin
damages the laminate area adjacent to the loaded half
of the hole.
In order to manipulate the results concerning simple
single-hole bolted joints, the following ultimate stresses
are defined (refer to Fig, 2 for symbols other than Lult):
Lult
Ultimate bearing strength, Ob(uk) - d t

w t

(1)

= {toeo + t.e. )
Ox(uR)

Zult

Lull

Ultimate shear strength, 7"xy(ult) - 2et

(2)

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1985

to
(7)

Of(ult) Vf t -

where to and t a are the total thicknesses of the 0 and


+ a plies in the laminate respectively; E0 and E a are
the corresponding Young's moduli; t is the total
laminate thickness, equal to (to + ta); al~ult) is the
tensile strength of the fibre; and Vf is the volume
fraction of fibres in the laminate.
However, in the case of ___45 laminates, failure under
tensile loading occurs by in-plane shear at 45 to the
loading axis. In this case therefore, the equation:
Ox(ult) = 2rult

(8)

is used, where Vult is the in-plane shear strength of the


material.
knet and kgross are considered to be a measure of the
tensile SCF in the joint Similar factors exist for the
bearing or shear failure modes but are not very
representative of the respective SCFs. For example,
a~ult) can be compared with the compressive strength
of the plain laminate, but problems arise for the +45
lay-up, for which the compressive strength is very low,
thus yielding a factor (0rx(ult)compr/O'b(ult)) considerably
less than 1 Similar problems arise if vx Cult) is
compared with the m-plane shear strength of the
laminate; in addition the latter property is very difficult
to measure. Therefore, for the reasons stated above,
only kne t and kgross are formulated and discussed in the
present paper
.

EXPERIMENTAL DETAILS
(3)

In every case Lul t is the failing load, taken as the


m a x i m u m load attained during the test The above
strength values are used for bearing, tensile and shear
failure modes respectively. It is clear that in all three
cases the failing load is divided by the nominal failure
area. In the case of a combination of failure modes,
lYb(ult) is usually used.
Work by Collings ~ suggests the use of two stress

t--oE-~

Net ultimate tensile strength, anet(~) - (w-d)t

(6)

and O'x(ult) is the theoretical ultimate tensile strength of


the plain laminate. Collings uses a law of strain
compatibility to calculate Crxtult) for a laminate
containing plies at 0 and a to the direction of
loading, and concludes that:

'1

approx

(5)

Lult
Ogross -

Failure modes in composite materials

I,i

Ox(~0

Ogross(ult)
where

Tension

kg~oss =

Materials
Experiments were conducted on both GFRP (E-glass
fibre) and CFRP (XAS fibre), using two different resin
systems - - Code 69 from Fothergill and 913 from
Ciba-Geigy. The following four fibre/resin
combinations were therefore possible: G/69, G/913,
XAS/69 and XAS/913.
Most of the work was done on G/69, although a large
n u m b e r of tests were carried out on G/913. A few CFRP
specimens were made for comparative purposes.

93

Table 1.

M a t e r i a l properties

Property

G/69

G/913

X A S / 9 1 3 and
XAS/69

Longitudinal tensile strength (MPa)


Longitudinal tensile modulus (GPa)
Longitudinal compressive strength (M Pa)
Longitudinal compressive modulus (GPa)
Interlaminar shear strength (M Pa)
Shear modulus (GPa)
Principal Poisson's ratio
Transverse tensile strength (MPa)
Transverse tensile modulus (GPa)
Transverse compressive strength (MPa)
Transverse compressive modulus (GPa)
Tensile strength at 45 (MPa)
Tensile modulus at 45 (GPa)
Compressive strength at 45 (MPa)
Compressive modulus at 45 (GPa)
Average fibre volume fraction

(1100)
(55)
(900)

(1170)
42
750
90
67

(2100)
150
1200
126
100

--

(63)
5

0.230
(57)
(26)

0.227
73
15
165

---

--

0.263
57
9.5
155

--

(126)
(24)

210
14
111
178
(0.60)

---

(0.67)

9.8

230
--

184
17
(0.60)

The values in brackets were determined experimentally in the present work. The other data were supplied by the manufacturers

The material was obtained in prepreg form, as


unidirectional plies of nominal moulded thickness
0.250 m m (Code 69) or 0.125 m m (913), and fibre
volume fraction 0.6 when moulded. The laminates were
cured according to manufacturers' specifications.
Laminate thicknesses were nominally 1.5, 3, 4, 4.5 and
6 mm. The lay-ups used are discussed in the next
section. Note, however, that because of the cure
schedule used G/69 laminates were somewhat thinner
than nominal, resulting in a fibre volume fraction of
0.67 on average, ie slightly higher than expected.
Initially, some tests were done to measure material
properties. Manufacturer's data are available for G/913
and XAS/913, therefore only longitudinal tensile tests
were performed on these in order to confirm the choice
of specimen dimensions. In the case of XAS/69 it was
assumed that the properties are the same as for
XAS/913 because there was not enough material
available for a complete set of tests and no data were
supplied. The experiments for G/69 were to measure
Young's moduli parallel, normal and at 45 to the fibre
direction, as well as the corresponding tensile strengths.
Longitudinal compressive strength was also measured.
The results obtained can be found in Table l, along
with the data for the other three fibre/resin
combinations.
Table 2.

Testing variables
The strength and the failure mode of a single-hole
bolted specimen depend upon four geometric variables:
the width, the edge distance, the hole diameter and the
laminate thickness (see Fig. 2). Another very important
variable is the degree of tightening of the bolt The
torque is transferred to the specimen in the form of
lateral pressure (trz) exerted by the washer onto the
area around the bolt The size of the washer is also
important but was not varied in the present work. The
stacking sequence also plays a very important role and,
in particular, its effects are coupled with those of the
geometric variables. Here, 0 , 00/__+45, +45 and 00/90
lay-ups were investigated, all balanced about the midplane. Detailed descriptions of these can be found in
Table 2. Furthermore, for families of0/+~t laminates,
one can investigate the effects of sequence homogeneity
and of proportion of + a layers.
It is evident that a consistent experimental programme
should treat each one of the above variables as
completely independent. In the present paper, however,
only the most important aspects are covered, and an
outline of the tests is provided below:
effect of trz o n O'b(ult) for 0/___45 (1/3 0 , 2/3 45 )
laminates;

Lay-ups and stacking sequences

Unidirectional:

12-ply, iet = 3 mm

0 / + 4 5 ( 1 / 3 0 , 2 / 3 45):

(0/+45/-45/0/+45/-45)s,

0/4-45(1/3

0 , 2 / 3 45):

0/+45(1/3

0 , 2 / 3 45):

(0/+45/-45/0/+45/-45/0/+45/--45)~, t = 4.5 mm
(0/+45/-45/0/+45/-45/0/+45/-45/0/+45/-45)~ t = 6 mm

+45:

( - t - 4 5 / - 4 5 / + 4 5 / - - 4 5 / - I - 4 5 / - 4 5 ) ~ t = 3 mm

0/90:

(0/90/0/90/0/90)s,

0/4-45(1/2

0/4-45(2/3 0 , 1 / 3 45):

( 0 / - I - 4 5 / 0 / 0 / - 4 5 / 0 ) s , t = 3 mm

0/+450(2/3

(0/0/+45/-45/0/0)~ t = 3 mm

0 , 1 / 2 45):

0 , 1 / 3 450),

t = 3 mm or 1.5 mm

t = 3 mm

(0/+45/-45/0/0/+45/-45/0)s, t = 4 mm

non-homogeneous:

94

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1985

cell

IIII

I
Specimen

Load introduced

Loading mechanism
(steel)

by the test machine grips


Fig. 3

Loading mechanism (not to scale). Dimensions dependent on bolt size

effects of width, edge distance, hole size and


laminate thickness o n O'b(ult) , trne~(ul 0 and rxy(ul0 for
various stacking sequences;
effects of width and edge distance on failure mode;
and
effects of percentage of-+45 plies in a 00/+45
family of laminates on ab(ul0, O'net(ul0 and Vxy(ul0
(G/69 only).

A total of 450 specimens was prepared and tested.

The clearance between the specimen and the loading


arrangement was minimized to reduce the possibility of
pin bending.

Apparatus and procedure


The arrangement shown in Fig. 3 was used to fit the
specimen in the 100 kN Instron test machine. The
double-ended specimen configuration was chosen for
ease and speed of manufacture. The distance between
the holes was always long enough to rule out any stress
field interactions. A pre-load ( ~ 100 N) was applied to
the specimen before the bolts were tightened in order
to avoid initial load eccentricity. The loading rate was
kept constant during the test, ensuring failure in about
30 seconds. The failing load was taken as the mean
value from two to four specimens and then normalized
to a fibre volume fraction of 0.6. For each test, a load/
displacement curve was obtained, the displacement
being the relative cross-head movement. The lateral
pressure, trz, applied through the washers was
monitored by means of strain gauges fitted on small
steel cylinders through which the bolts would pass, as
shown in Fi~ 3. These 'load cells' had previously been
calibrated in compression using the same test machine.

900

/,,,o

.~.~.- . . . .

800J7/

"

x~------~--~

~
---x-- G/69

b;6OO '-

--o-- G/913

50O
40O

I
I0

I
2O

I
30

I
40

I
50

a"z (aPa)
Fig. 4 Variation of bearing strength of 0 / 4 5 * (~ 0", % 45") laminates
with bolt clamping pressure, d = 6.35 mm, t = 3 mm

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1985

The washers used were tailor-made to ensure a good fit


between the inside diameter of the washer and the
bolts. The outside diameter was set at 2.2 times the
inside diameter, so that results could be compared with
those of Callings. ~ The significance of the size of the
washer has been previously discussed, ~ where it was
concluded that loose-fit washers gave inconsistent
results although the bearing strength was slightly
increased with increasing outside diameter.

DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
Bearing
1. Effect of lateral pressure
Provided the width, w, and the edge distance, e, of a
specimen are large compared with the hole diameter
d (>6d), the failure area is confined to within one or
two diameters' distance from the loaded half of the
hole, giving what is known as a bearing failure.
If the laminate is sufficiently restrained laterally, the part
of the laminate under the washers develops shear cracks
(see Figs 15 and 17) but is not allowed to expand under
compression, therefore the lateral expansion - - and
hence the delamination - - is spread into a wider area
that lies outside the washer boundary. The ultimate
load is therefore expected to increase since the easiest
failure modes are suppressed. Indeed, as shown in Fig
4 for the case of 00/--+45 laminates of G/69 or G/913,
the bearing stress increases asymptotically, but it is
expected to start decreasing when trz becomes high
enough to cause the washers to dig into the laminate.
Note that the a z = 0 points correspond to tests where
the bolts were lightly 'finger tight', while a few 'pinned'
tests were also carded out in which a reduction of
20-30% in strength (compared with finger-tight tests)
was observed. The failure mode of the pinned
specimens was brush-like, the damage being localized
around the loaded half of the hole.
It should be noted that since the thickness of the 913
prepreg material was half that of the Code 69 prepreg,
double layers were used when laying up the 913
laminates in order to achieve the same total
thicknesses for similar stacking sequences of the two
resin systems. Throughout the paper therefore, 'single
layers' should be assumed to be 0.250 mm thick, except
in one set of tests mentioned later, where the use of
0.125 mm layers is clearly stated.

95

900[

1.06

800/~"

.......---"
~

,.....

1.41
2.17-

_,~/,' 3.18

600
d/t
1.06
1.41
2.12
3.18

d(mm) t(mm)
6.35
6
635
4.5
6.35
3
9.53
3
4.23 12.70 3

4OO
3OO

10

I
I0

I
20

I
30
o" z (MPa)

I
40

I
50

Fig. 5
Effect of d/t ratio on bearing strength of 0 / 4 5 (~ 0 , % 45 )
laminates of G/6g. d/t values as indicated
800

o 9.55
zx 12.7

600
~500
b
400
300

1-

I
I

1
2

I
3

I
4

I
5

dlt
Fig. 6 Variation of bearing strength of 0 * / + 4 5 * ( ~ 0", % 45 ) G / 6 9
laminates with d / t ratio (finger-tight bolt), t = 3, 4.5 or 6 ram, az = 0

The above results compare well with those found


previously, 1-3 although actual stress levels cannot be
compared because of the different fibre/resin
combinations and lay-ups used.
At this point, a value had to be chosen for (rz that
would be used in all of the subsequent tests for reasons
of consistency. The value chosen was limited to
o"z = 12 MPa, corresponding to roughly 90% of the
asymptotic strength (see Fig. 4), in order not to give
unacceptably high torque levels for the 12.7 m m bolts.
2.

Effect of width

As the width of the specimen decreases, there is a point


where the mode of failure changes from one of bearing
to one of tension, ie the specimen fails across the width
at the net section, with cracks originating from the hole
boundary. This mode change is associated with a
considerable drop in load-carrying capacity, as shown
in Fig. 7 for the case of 0o/+45 laminates. Since the
transition points shown are not usually well defined it
would be more appropriate to talk of transition
'regions', extending roughly half a unit of w/d either
side of the transition points indicated.

It is important to note the more gradual asymptotic


behaviour of the curves of the GFRP laminates, revealing
a strong influence of the width on the bearing failure
load. On the other hand, there is no apparent link
between the point of transition and the type of fibre or
resin used although, on a rough scale only, all fibre/
resin combinations seem to change-over at w/d = 3.2.
Furthermore, all curves are expected to pass through
the point Orb(ult) = 0, w/d = 1, but the two Code 69
curves are too steep for this to happen. Finally, CFRP
bearing strength appears to be roughly 19% higher than

I100

Effect of thickness

The effects of thickness (t) were found to be best


correlated if the ratio d/t was examined. In Fig. 5, tTb(ul0
is plotted against ~rz for different d/t ratios for a

0o/ _. 44_ 5 o laminate


of G/69. It is clear that ~ult)
increases considerably with decreasing d/t, as is also
shown in Fig. 6 for the particular case of finger-tight
bolts. Collings, 1 and Godwin and Matthews 3 presented
similar results for CFRP and other materials, but
Collings showed that for high lateral pressure values,
the effects of d/t almost disappear. Fig" 5 suggests that
this is not the case for GRE; it seems therefore that its
low modulus favours instability effects that are
independent of ~z. These effects may be occurring on a
microscopic scale, but for values of d/t> 3 they become
so pronounced that, during testing, the part of the
specimen between the hole and the edge running
normal to the length was observed to deform
considerably out of the laminate plane, thus increasing
the load eccentricity and introducing bending stresses.

96

It is apparent therefore that designers should try to use


small d/t values for joints, noting that a lower limit
exists below which fasteners would fail in shear.
Naturally, this limit depends on the quality of the
bolts, but it is recommended not to use values of d/t
below 1-1.2.
3.

700

This 'out-of-plane' buckling mode was noted for both


G/69 and G/913 specimens of'the 00/+45 (1/3 0 ,
2/3 45 ) lay-up, for all crz used and for all d and t
combinations giving a ratio of d/t>3. The details of
high d/t values for the other lay-ups are not known
because no comparative tests were carried out. It is
interesting to note, however, that the out-of-plane
buckling mode was also observed by Kutscha and
Hofer4 more than 20 years ago, while they were
performing tests with Scotchply XP-251 S material in a
00/90 lay-up on double-lap bolted joints, using
d/t = 3.13. This is the only reference found in which
this buckling effect is mentioned.

T i rtgh = . . _ _ ~
_ens.o
_ _
[ t~Bearing

XAS/913

100(3
900
/

/~f/~,

,.-_ ............
.,...---" ~
------

G/913
XAS/69

800
Q_

~70o

50(3
4OO

"f
0

i
I

~
2

5
w/d

Fig. 7 Variation of bearing strength of 0 / + 4 5 (~ 0 , z~ 45 o) laminates


with w / d ratio, d = 6.35 mm, t = 3 ram, ~rz = 12 MPa

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1985

Where the two curves start to separate, out-of-plane


buckling began to occur for the thin specimens, and
this resulted in a reduction in full bearing strength of
about 15%. No other differences were observed.

90O

8OO

The above results of strength vs width are typical of


most materials and compare well with similar
data. 1,3,5.6 Numerical values, however, are difficult to
compare because of the m a n y variables involved.

7O(3
O
(3_

:E

b~

4.

f(mm)
3
---1.5

400

30(
..r

l
0

I
I

I
2

I
3

I
4

I
5

I
6

I
7

I
8

w/d
Fig. 8 Effect of out-of-plane buckling on the tensile failure mode of
0 0 / 4 5 ( 0 , % 45 ) G / 9 1 3 laminates, d = 6.35 ram, ~z = 12 MPa

IIOO

XAS/913
Sheor.t,,.,~, - /
'~-Beorinq

I000

- ~

900

G/9~
XAS/69
!

~ 80o

/Z

G/69

.=

b
6O0~
500
4O0

I
I

I
2

I
3
e/d

I
4

Similar tests were carried out on a 00/+45 G/913


laminate using 0.125 m m thick layers and the results
compared with those of a double-layer laminate. As
shown in Fig, 10, the bearing strength was 15% lower,
as expected, but shear mode strength was increased by
about 20%, while the transition region shifted to
e/d = 2.8. The increase in shear strength could only be
attributed to more uniform interlaminar shear stresses
because of the reduced thickness (smaller threedimensional influence). The decrease of the e/d value for
transition agrees with the observation of Godwin and
Matthews 3 that " m i n i m u m e/d ]in order to achieve full
bearing strength] depends on diameter, being less for
larger values of d". In this work, d was kept constant
but t was halved, thus doubling the d/t ratio, effectively
causing the same change.

5.

900
800

~ 7OO
t (ram)

As the edge distance decreases, the bearing failure


mode changes to one of shear-out. This is a
combination of in-plane and interlaminar shear
failures, and the load-carrying capacity decreases as
shown in Fig, 9 for the case of 0/_+45 laminates. The
transition region for this lay-up lies around e/d = 3
and the decrease in strength is much more gradual for
GFRP laminates. Apart from the latter, the shape of the
curves does not depend on the fibre/resin combination.
Again, results compare well with previous ones. 1,3,5

Fig, 9 Variation of bearing strength of 0 / 4 5 ( 0 , % 45 ) laminates


with e / d ratio, d = 6.35 ram, t = 3 ram, (7z = 12 MPa

/ /

Effect of lay-up

The lay-up has a great effect both on the joint strength


and on the mechanism of failure. Figs 11 to 14 present
the results of tTb(ult) vs w/d or e/d for 00/_+45, 0o/90 and
_+45 laminates of G/69 and G/913. Note the close
similarities between corresponding curves for the two
fibre/resin combinations and the differences between
the behaviour of the various lay-ups. For example, note
the high w/d value needed for the +45 laminates to
achieve full strength, and similarly the high e/d value
needed for the 0/90 laminates.

L5

400

900

300
0

Effect of edge distance

800
I
I

[
2

I
3
e/d

I
4

I
5

Fig. 10 Effect of out-of-plane buckling on the shear-out failure mode of


0 / 4 5 ( 0 , % 45 =) G / 9 1 3 laminates, d = 6.35 ram, (Tz= 12 MPa

7O0
:5

-=soo
b 500

that of GFRP, and laminates with 913 resin are 22%


stronger in bearing than those with Code 69.
One of the 0o/+45 laminates was made using
0.125 m m thick layers of G/913 prepreg (12 layers used,
i e t = 1.5 mm) to investigate the differences in the
strength of single- and double-layered laminates. The
results are presented in Fig. 8, using values of d/t of
2.12 and 4.23 (double and single layers respectively).

COMPOSITES.

APRIL 1985

//
f

4oc
3o(

,/

Z ';p'-

--~x--+45

.1.
0

I
I

I
2

~I
3

oo

-.-ov~ _"2"(+ 0,-~45 I


-~--o/9o

I
4

I
5

I
6

I
7

t
8

I
9

I
I0

w/d
Fig. 11 Bearing strength vs w / d ratio for various G/69 laminates.
d = 6.35 mm, t = 3 ram, (Tz= 12 MPa

97


t
800

. ; : L- ' ~ ' z ' - " ~ - - - - -

,/
60o

"/

//f

/ .

,y
/

50O

'

400

/
"[
0

Z/'

--x--O

0 2

l.-t. 45 (7 0,-~-45 )

0/90

""~"+450

6
w/d

I0

Fig. 12 Bearing strength vs w / d ratio for various G / 9 1 3 laminates.


d = 6,35 ram, t - 3 ram, ~rz-- 12 MPa

Fig. 15 Bearing failure of a 0 0 / 4 5 ( 0 , ~ 45 ) G / 9 1 3 laminate.


d = 6.35 mm, t - - 3 mm, crz = 12 MPa. Load left to right

90(
80(
70(

~ , ~

b= 5O(

///~

/,/

400
300

de'

-'-~

- "~'----"

..fl--; ---'-----

//

60(

x'--- ''~-

,/-

Q~

- . - 0 % 45"~0*,-}4s*~

--o--0"/90"

---~-+-45"

I
2

I
4

I
5

e/d

I
6

I
7

Fig. 16 Tensile failure of a 0 / 4 5 ( ~ 0 . ~ 45 ) G / 6 9 laminate.


d = 6.35 ram, t = 3 ram, crz = 12 MPa. Load left to right

Fig. 13 Bearing strength vs e / d ratio for various (3/69 laminates.


d = 6.35 ram, t = 3 mm, ~z = 12 MPa

9OO
~"W"

-O"--

800
~_ 7oo

/I

600

/J

b 500
400

30o

0 2

---~--+-45"
,,//

- - x - - O /:1: 45 (~..0,~.45 )
-..o--00/90

I
4

e/d

I
5

I
6

I
7

Fig. 14 Bearing strength vs e / d ratio for various G / 9 1 3 laminates.


d = 6.36 mm, t = 3 mm, % = 12 MPa

The crack initiation and propagation pattern, as well as


the shape of the failure area, depends strongly on the
lay-up used. Selected photographs of failed specimens
are shown in Figs 15 to 18. It should be noted that the
woven appearance of the laminates is due to the
pattern left by the bleed cloth employed during curing,
and also that the photographs were taken by placing a
strong light source behind the specimens to enhance
the through-thickness details. The damaged area was
much larger in the 00/90 specimens. For all lay-ups
the mode of failure under the washer appears to be one
of compressiorL with many in-plane shear cracks
originating from the hole boundary and propagating in
a direction either parallel to the fibres (resin failure)
or at 45 to them (fibre and resin failure). Outside the
area restrained by the washer, the mode of failure
changes to one of delamination followed by (or
possibly caused by) fibre buckling.

98

Fig. 17 Bearing failure of a 0 / 9 0 G / 9 1 3 laminate, d = 6.35 mm,


t = 3 mm, ~rz = 12 MPa. Load left to right

Fig. 18 Shear failure of a + 4 5 G / 6 9 laminate, d = 6 . 3 5


~rz = 12 MPa. Load left to right

COMPOSITES.

mm, t = 3

ram,

APRIL 1985

As shown in Fig. 16, the tensile failure mechanism is a


combination of transverse fibre breakage and
delamination. Furthermore, it was observed during
tests that it was almost impossible to achieve a neat
tensile failure with Code 69 material, while CFRP was
much more brittle than GFRP.
Shear
The shear-out strengths of 00/__-45 laminates of CFRP
and GFRP are compared in Fig. 2, and it is apparent
that the general trend is the same for both materials.
The test results indicate that CFRP is stronger than
GFRP for the same resin system and, except for the case
of XAS/69, a peak in strength was encountered at
roughly e = 13 mm.
Fig. 19 Bearing failure of a 0 * / + 4 5 * ( ~ 0", % 45*) G / 9 1 3 laminate
showing the effects of out-of-plane buckling, d = 6.35 ram, t = 1.5 turn,
~rz= 12 MPa. Load left to right

A specimen that failed in the out-of-plane buckling


mode is shown in Fig, 19 where it can be seen how the
washer 'dug' into the laminate, leaving the
unconstrained area almost damage-free.
Tension
knet and kgross, as defined by Equations (4) and (5)
respectively, can be treated as measures of the various
" 20 presents knet and/<gross for 0o/ _+4 5 o 0 / 3 0o,
SCFs. Fig.
2/3 45 ) laminates of the four fibre/resin combinations
tested.
It can. be seen
that
k,et decreases and k-ross
.
.
.
.
E,
increases with decreasing width, suggesting that
most of the load is transferred in the material close to
the hole. Material away from the hole will be
inefficient and therefore an increase in width will not
give a pro-rata increase in strength. The magnitudes of
kne t and kgross are not characteristic of the type of
material used but instead of the width and of the layup. It was found that for _45 lay-ups of GFRP,
approximate values for knet and kgross were 1.1 and 1.5
respectively, indicating a more uniformly distributed
stress at the net section. The specimen thickness was
found not to influence the tensile strength, as shown in
Fig. 8 for a 00/___45 laminate of G/913.

Moreover, it was found that the shear strength of all


lay-ups was almost constant with edge distance (for all
materials), thus agreeing with the finite element
results presented by Wilson and Pipes 7 that the shear
SCF does not depend drastically on e/d, but instead
stays almost constant at the relatively high value of 5.
The effect of thickness is shown in Fig. 10 and, as
previously discussed, thinner specimens resulted in
slightly higher shear strengths while change-over to
bearing mode was at a slightly lower value of e/d.
Other factors affecting strength
The amount of_+a layers present in a 0/___e
laminate has a great effect both on strength and mode
of failure. In order to investigate this, tests were carried
out on a number of 00/-----45 laminates of G/69,
containing 0, 33, 50, 67 or 100 % __+45 plies. A detailed
description of the lay-ups is given in Table 2. The
strength test results are presented in Fig. 22, where ~b
denotes the percentage of ___45 layers. It can be seen
that bearing and tension strengths were both maximum
for a value of ~b approximately equal to 30 while shear
strength reached a peak at q~ = 50. However, the choice
of the best laminate for use with bolted joints cannot
be made on the basis of strength criteria alone, since
the weight of the material used for jointing is of equal

200
\ ' , XAS/913

"~kxx
\

kgm=
~ ....

~
m ~
....

G/69
XAS/69
G/913

- ....

XAS/915

/-----XAS/69
/
\ G/915

150

,/

Q.

o
/

ac

~ 6 / 6 9

~" I00

50-

I--

I0

20

30

40

w (mrn)
Fig. 2 0
Tensile SCFs for GFRP and CFRP0 * / 4 5 * ( ~ 0", % 45*)
laminates, d = 6 . 3 5 mm, t = 3 ram, Gz = 12 MPa

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1 9 8 5

I0

e(nvn)

15

20

Fig. 21 Variation of ultimate shear strength with edge distance for GFRP
and CFRPO/+45 ( ~ 0", ~ 4 5 =) laminates, d = 6.35 mm, t = 3 mm,
~z = 12 MPa

99

80
I100: ==-~-'Tensile strength of
unidirectional G169

't

70
t
I000

\
60
r,.~.-Compre~ive strength of
unidirectionol G/69

\
\

\
\

50
800

//1"4"=''"'~

Bearing

\\
E 40
_

\\

\\ \

/
/
A

~" 600,
=E

/
\x
J

2
~ 5~

4OO -

Iculated
using
Lekhnitski

"

N
'r'net(ult)
~ w
= 15ram
~

....~ ,.~-- ~ "

I0

N
-

Shear
"rxy (ult)

I
20

I
30

I
40

I
50

I
60

I
20

I
30

I
40

I
50

I
60

I
70

I
80

I
90

1130

\
\ \

I
10

I
I0

Fig. 23 Minimum values of width and edge distance required to obtain


full bearing strength for 0"/:1:45" G/69 laminates, d-- 6.35 mm,
az= 12 MPa

are achieved with 40% 0, 60% 4-45 laminates,


justifying the fact that most of the present work was
done using 33% 0, 67% 4-45 laminates.

I00

Tension

N
N
N
200

,,,,,. ~

20
~ . . . .

50G

~ ~ ~ ~

I
70

I
80

I
90

100

The net tensile strength of a unidirectional specimen


(as shown in Fig. 22) was predicted using an equation
due to Lekhnitski, which is (quoted from Reference 1):

~b (percentage of +-45*plies)
Fig. 22 Joint properties of 0*/+45* G/69 laminates containing various
proportions of :t:45" plies d = 6.35 mm, t = 3 mm (except for
~ = 50%, t = 4 mm), trz= 12 MPa

importance. That is, in order to achieve full bearing


strength, w/d and e/d have to lie above certain
minimum values, and these are also dependent on ~b.
For the case o f d = 6.35 mm and t = 3 mrn, these
minima are plotted against ~b in Fig. 23 (these curves
can only be approximate since the full strength is
reached asymptotically). Hence, the ratio:
e =

Ob(ua)

Wminemin -- rr d2

(9)

can be calculated for all the 0o/4-45 laminates, thus


providing a measure of efficiency. By plotting e against
~b (see Fig. 24), it becomes evident that the best results

100

kgross=l+

- v12

+ ~--

(10)

where El is Young's modulus in the loading direction;


E2 is Young's modulus normal to the loading direction;
G is the in-plane shear modulus; and v,2 is the
principal Poisson's ratio.
Equation (10) strictly applies to unloaded holes, but the
variation of kgross with q~ should be similar for both
loaded and unloaded cases.
Finally, the effect of stacking sequence homogeneity
was investigated by testing two 2/3 0, 1/3 -t-45
laminates, laid as described by sequences (8) and (9) in
Table 2. Sequence (9) was less homogeneous than (8)
and resulted in a 19% lower bearing strength, while
tensile and shear strengths remained constant (within
experimental accuracy). Very similar results have been
presented by Callings for CFRP) ,s

C O M P O S I T E S . APRIL 1 9 8 5

00/___45 (1/3 0 , 2/3 45 ) laminates were found to be


about 20% stronger for CFRP than for GFRP. Furthermore, a stronger interaction between the different
modes of failure was observed for GFRP as shown by the
more 'spread out' transition regions. For the same
geometry again, the bearing and tensile modes were
similar for the two materials, provided the specimens
were sufficiently clear of the transition regions, and
also the shear mode was more easily obtained for GFRP.
However, since only 0/-t-45 CFRP lay-ups were
examined here, additional tests to the present ones
should be carried out to obtain a complete set of data
for comparative purposes. Finally, GFRP showed a
tendency for delaminations rather than in-plane shear
or tensile cracking and the effect was most pronounced
in the transition region between tensile and bearing
failure modes.

0.8

0.7

0.6:.0.50.4 ~u

0.30.20.1-

I0

20

30

40

50

60

70

BO

90

I00

CONCLUSIONS
Fig. 2 4

Efficiency of 0 " / : t : 4 5 " G / 6 9 laminates in bearing

The tests on single-hole bolted joints showed that the


effects of width, edge distance, hole size, bolt clamping
pressure and stacking sequence were in general similar
for both GFRP and CFRP, while different resin systems
only resulted in different strength levels. However, the
effect of laminate thickness was found considerably
more important for GFRP because its lower stiffness
favoured instability effects which reduced its strength
performance. The best lay-up was judged to be a
0/-t-45 lay-up with 60% ___45 plies and a
homogeneous stacking sequence.

Genera/remarks
There is a great amount of information contained in
the load/displacement graphs drawn by the testing
machine during loading. Typical curves are presented
in Fig. 25, and it is interesting to note that bearing
failures are a lot less catastrophic than the tensile or
the shear modes. In addition, 00/90 laminates were
observed to behave in a very 'noisy' fashion as the load
approached maximum, as also indicated by the
multiple drops on the load/displacement curve (see
Fig~ 25(c)).

Finally, the micromechanisms of failure for the bolted


specimens were found to be heavily dependent on the
lay-up. The material used was also significant, an
increased number of delaminations being observed for
GFRP compared with CFRP, together with a stronger
interference between modes of failure.

One of the most important aims of this work was to


compare the behaviour of GFRP with that of CFRP in
bolted joints. For the same specimen geometry, the

,sL

15

I
I

IC

Tension

.X

I
I

5F

I 'a
0

CrossheQd

displacement

(ram)

Fig. 2 5
L o a d / d i s p l a c e m e n t curves for G / 6 9 laminates, d = 6 . 3 5 mm, t = 3 mm, ~z = 1 2 MPa. (a) 0 / : t : 4 5 ( ~ 0 , ~ 45=); bearing - - w = 4 0 mm,
e = 3 0 ram; t e n s i o n - - w = 17 ram, e = 2 5 m m ; s h e a r - - w = 4 0 mm, e = 1 6 ram. (b) + 4 5 ; bearing; w = 6 0 ram; e = 4 0 ram. (c) 0 / 9 0 ; bearing;
w=45
ram; e = 4 0
mm

C O M P O S I T E S . APRIL 1 9 8 5

101

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This w o r k was f i n a n c e d by the M i n i s t r y o f D e f e n c e
( P r o c u r e m e n t Executive). T h e authors w o u l d like to
express their gratitude to T.A. Collings for his h e l p a n d
guidance.

REFERENCES
l

Collings, T.A. 'The strength of bolted joints in


multidirectional CFRP laminates' RAE TR 75127 (Royal
Aircraft Establishment, UK, 1975)
2 Stockdale, J.H. and Matthews, F.L 'The effect of clamping
pressure on bolt bearing loads in glass fibre-reinforced
plastics' Composites 7 No 1 (January 1976) pp 34-38
3 Godwin, E.W. and Matthews, F.L 'A review of the strength
of joints in fibre-reinforced plastics, Part 1: Mechanically
fastened joints" Composites 11 No 3 (July 1980) pp 155-160
4 Kutschn, D. and Hofer Jr, K.E. 'Feasibility of joining
advanced composite flight vehicle structures' AD 690616
(lIT Research Institute, Chicago, IL USA, January 1969;
Report No AFML-TR-68-391, US Air Force Materials
Laboratory Contract)

102

5 Lehman, G.M, and Hawley, A.V. 'Investigation of joints in


advanced fibrous composites for aircraft structures, etc' AD
861165 (Douglas Aircraft Co, Long Beach, CA. USA.
January 1969: Report No AFFDL-TR-69-43, US Air Force
Flight Dynamics Laboratory Contract)
6 Soni, S.R. 'Failure analysis of composite laminates with a
fastener hole' in 'Joining of Composite Materials', ASTM STP
749 edited by K,T. Kedward (American Society for Testing
and Materials, 1981) pp 145-164
7 Wilson, D.W. and Pipes, ILB. 'Analysis of the shearout
failure mode in composite bolted joints' in "Composite
Structures' edited by I.H. Marshall pp 34-49 (Applied Science
Publishers, 1981)
8 Collings, T.A. 'On the bearing strengths of CFRP laminates'
Composites 13 No 3 (July 1982) pp 241-252

AUTHORS
T h e a u t h o r s are with the D e p a r t m e n t of Aeronautics,
I m p e r i a l College o f Science a n d Technology, Prince
C o n s o r t Road, L o n d o n SW7 2BY, UK.
Inquiries s h o u l d be a d d r e s s e d to M r M a t t h e w s in the
first instance.

COMPOSITES . APRIL 1985